BW barrel users

Anyone bought into using US Plastic barrels for your food pack? I’ve used a 5 gallon bucket with a lid the last couple of years and think I want something bigger that will hold all smelly things (ie, even the cook kit). I find “hiding” the food bucket/barrel works just fine as opposed to hanging. Wondering if anyone uses a barrel carried in a 3 or 3.5 Duluth Pack and if so would a 10 gallon/21 inch tall be ok or should I go with a 19 inch/8 gallon size? Also, if you use a frame backpack frame does it cause problems in the canoe given its shape and rigged nature? I am talking fit here, not food quantity.

Thanks for the old opinions. Man, this trip planning is fun.

Barrel Collector
Barrels . . . wouldn’t trip without them!

I have several, well maybe more than several, that get used frequently. My tripping is all rivers so keeping things dry is very important.

Sleeping gear and clothes for two people go in a 60 litre barrel with snap ring top. It has its own harness for portaging. I have taken another barrel and harness of the same dimensions for food but it was a chore to get it off the ground for the first few days. Most food is now dehydrated and goes in 20 litre barrels with screw top lids, two of which fit in a pack (about 90 L size) and still have room for the tent, cooking gear, tarp and a bunch of other stuff. The two barrels can hold enough food for two people for eighteen days.

I find every canoe and food situation involves a different packing technique. Solo, tandem, weight of paddlers all play a part in how the barrels and packs go in. Barrels can also add a bit of flotation if they are lashed in correctly. Did manage to have one ripped out of a folded canoe once, though : (

I don’t hide or hang these barrels. Are they smell proof? Yes, to a certain extent, but will not take the place of a clean campsite.

1 US gallon (dry) = 4.4 litres

Barrel and pack frame
I use a 60 liter (12.5 gal) blue barrel and carry harness for food on 9 day Quetico trips with 6 people. The one I have is in the Piragis catalog or on-line store. It works well for me paddling and portaging. It rides OK standing upright in the canoe. It carries about 2/3 of the food for the group. It’s more comfortable on a portage than a heavy food pack with leather shoulder straps. But I don’t carry this barrel and a canoe together because the barrel rides too tall on your back and continually clunks the canoe. Also I have decades of experience taking an outside tubular frame pack on canoe trips. Ours is a large frame with a bottom frame extension where the tent gets bungeed on. I haven’t had any trouble with fitting this pack in the rear cargo bay flat on the bottom as long as the canoe was 17’ or more. But that is the only large pack that rides in that bay. In an 18’ or longer canoe, you also should be able to get a frame pack in the forward cargo bay. But if your canoe is shorter than 17’, I advise you to try fitting it in the canoe at home first. One thing to look out for on a pack frame is the cheap split rings used on the pins that hold the pack to the frame. The typical rings have sharp exposed ends that slice up your hands when you blindly grab the frame to lift the pack out of the canoe. Buy some decent split rings and replace the ones that can badly bite you.

I bought my first 10 gal. barrel from US Plastics I found it fits nicely into an army duffel bag that has shoulder straps. Leaves plenty of room at the top to store cookware, dish towels and other items needed without it being too much of a load…